South Africa batsmen easily distracted - Warner
South Africa's batsmen were too easily distracted during the first Test and would do well to improve their concentration if they wish to bat for longer periods in Adelaide, according to Australia's opener David Warner.
Seldom short of a word to his opponents, Warner said Australia's players were tired of the South Africans pulling away before the ball was bowled in Brisbane. It was a saga that reached an angry climax when James Pattinson and Graeme Smith exchanged words after South Africa's captain backed off - understandably - when a bird flew across his eye-line with the bowler about to deliver. Warner thinks the issue of movement around the sight-screen had been overplayed.
"I don't think you saw any of our players stop once because of guys walking behind the sight screen," Warner said. "I don't know how you can be that distracted or what they're looking at or what they're seeing. They've got to try and take those little distractions out of their mind because that could be something that's detracting from their game and preventing them from staying out there for longer periods.
"If the guy's in the fourth tier at the MCG and you see someone move, you're looking way too much and you're too distracted. The other day AB de Villiers played a ball when the sight-screen was still on the advertising board, so if he's just concentrating on the specifics of the bowler then that's fantastic. But someone is moving away because a guy is peaking his head behind the sight screen - if you're picking those little things up I think you're not watching the bowler hard enough."
Warner himself had reason to wonder about his powers of focus and concentration after his innings on a friendly Gabba wicket ended after only 16 minutes, 15 deliveries and four runs. A cheap dismissal, edging Dale Steyn, seemed the logical conclusion to a preparation that featured plenty of time on the bench, with Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League, and only one first-class match since April. Warner admitted he had sought the counsel of Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey about finding focus and purpose as a cricketer, when a relentless schedule and his commitments as a T20 commodity detract from that end.
"[To play] three forms, as I've found out in the last 12-18 months, [has] been mad, it's been hectic. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, but now I start respecting the guys who've played for the last 10 years," Warner said. "I talk to guys like Ricky and Michael and Huss about how they mentally get through it all, and they say to us you've just got to try to find some time off somewhere in the year to take your mind off cricket. Any week you get off you try to spend it at home or just doing the little things you can to help cricket in Australia."
Warner watched his opening partner Ed Cowan closely during the Brisbane Test, admiring his concentration and balance between attack and defence. "Ed leaves a lot of balls that I'm probably playing at and that's what I'm learning up the other end. He probably leaves a couple of good length balls when I'm fending at them and shouldn't have to," Warner said. "It gives me another role to think about as well. You talk about respecting some good balls, and some of those good balls I can probably take on and would take on, but I have to start respecting my wicket a little bit more, and being a bit more consistent.
"You can hit endless amounts of balls and then, like the other day, come out and nick one. But you train for that and you've got to try and switch your mind to it. You can't go back to the change room and think 'this is crap, I prepared so well, how do I just nick one all of a sudden'? You can't let that get you down."
Australia are expected to name an unchanged squad for the second Test in Adelaide. The only variable is whether Shane Watson is added as a 13th member of the team pending his fitness.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here